A third of Birmingham ten-year-olds have missed out on their first choice secondary school according to council figures.

But 85.4 per cent of pupils in the city will be going to at least one of their first three preferences which is above the national average.

The anxious parents of almost 14,000 city children will be opening letters to find out if the desired school place has been secured. Those who applied electronically will have received emails and text messages yesterday (Monday).

Around 4,700 pupils will not be going to their preferred school, although most, 94.6 per cent will get a place at one their alternative five choices.

That leaves 762, or 5.4 per cent, not offered any one of their preferred schools.

There were also 1,870 applicants to Birmingham schools from outside the city, with only 21.3 per cent offered their first choice.

Although no details have yet been issued of which schools are the most popular, grammar and faith schools have traditionally the most popular, with about ten pupils applying for every place and many having to either sit a test or meet stringent entrance criteria.

Outside that the schools in leafy suburbs such as Sutton Coldfield, Hall Green and Edgbaston have been over subscribed with many pupils applying from outside the area.

NASUWT teaching union chief Chris Keates said: “Parents express preferences not choices. The handwringing of commentators about the very small percentage of those who don’t get their first preference has an underlying message that somehow these parents are being short-changed and will have to settle for ‘second best’.

“The standards of education in all secondary schools across the country have never been higher and are continually improving. It is wrong to imply that because a school was not a parent’s first preference that its standards are poor”.

It was the first year that parents could be informed by text, with more than 100 opting to do so, while others will be informed by more conventional letter, email or telephone call.

In a pilot run by Digital Birmingham and GES Connect Digitally, around 70 Birmingham parents were informed by text message.

According to official statistics there were a total of 13,986 applications from Birmingham children, up 34 on last year.

A total of 9,300 (66.5 per cent) were offered their first preferred school, second choice offers went to 1,715 (12.3 per cent) pupils, third preferences to 917 (6.6 per cent) , 587 (4.2 per cent) fourth choices, 412 (2.9 per cent) offered fifth preference and 293 (2.1 per cent) the sixth preferred school.

A total of 1,383 were offered school places outside Birmingham.

In recent years there have been an average 1,000 appeals have been made and 3.6 per cent have been successful.